Make sure you know all about the 3 Cs
If you’re looking to improve your game, there are a ton of hockey camps out there. And while they can all help improve your game on the ice, some are better than others at getting you on a coach’s recruiting radar. So, to find the right option for you, make sure you know the differences between the three hockey Cs; camps, clinics, and combines.
Easily the most common opportunity to improve your hockey skills, hockey camps run the gamut from one-day camps, multi-day, or weeklong camps and they can be day camps or overnight camps. They may be all hockey, on-ice mixed with off-ice work, or more like a summer camp with other, non-hockey activities added in. For most players, hockey camps are chosen based on proximity, player’s goals, budget, and available time.
However, for players who want to play at the collegiate level, some camps are better than others. That’s where it’s important to find elite or travel-level camps that will enhance your skills and techniques, while also putting you in front of college coaches. It’s the camps run by college programs on campus that can benefit your recruiting the most.
Camps offered by college programs allow you to work to develop your game with the coaches or assistant coaches so you get higher level tutelage than what might be available at home. A good showing at a college camp can put you on that coach’s recruiting radar and, in your downtime, you can take the opportunity to get a feel for the campus too.
Offering a narrower focus and shorter time commitment than a camp, most hockey clinics offer drills, scrimmages, and advice that will help you gain confidence and improve your game. A clinic can be position-focused (i.e. goalies or defensemen), skills-focused (shooting, stickhandling, or checking), or age-group specific. Hockey clinics can run for a half-day on only one day or several hours a day over the course of several days.
Like hockey camps, the recruiting benefits of hockey clinics depend mainly on the skill level of the camp and the on-ice coaching at each. For example, an elite defensemen camp run by a former pro player can go a long way toward raising your game, but an elite defensemen camp run by a college coach or coaches can also raise your recruiting profile.
Ice Hockey Combines and Showcases
While they can be run by individual teams or schools, hockey combines or showcases are about skill development and experience with an emphasis on exposure. While the higher-end showcases can be invitation-only or limited to elite-level players, participating in a combine can put you in front of college and junior coaches. As an extreme example consider the CCM Hockey Showcase, which most recently hosted 396 players and more than 125 coaches and scouts. However, there are plenty of other combines and showcases where you can play and develop in front of college and junior coaches. The key is to find the one that’s right for you and your family’s budget and available time.
Which One Is Right For You?
While family budget, proximity, and time commitment should factor into any decision, ultimately choosing the camp, clinic, or combine that’s right for you should come down to your skill level. While your ultimate goal may be to be seen by coaches and recruited for a scholarship, you won’t stand out at any camp or combine if you’re not at that skill level. If you’re an A player, look for opportunities to grow your game to the next level. If you’re a AA or AAA player, a local camp may be convenient, but will it push you to improve? The end-goal is to improve, so be honest with yourself about your skills, and then look for the camp, clinic, or combine that’s appropriate for your age and talent level, and will help you get to the next level, whether that’s A, AA, AAA, juniors or college.
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